3/14/2018—Well, a 579 vote lead in a 226,000 vote race is no endorsement, but it looks like Conor Lamb has won the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District. If so, Lamb will have to run again in 2018 in a District yet to be finally named because of the redistricting fight in the courts.
Nevertheless, this is a remarkable achievement. Remember, this race was run under the old GOP gerrymandered map. Under that map, Republicans have won this seat easily since 2012. There was thought to be no way a Democrat could win it.
Then came Trump, of course. But, as unpopular as the President may be nationally, he is still favorably viewed by most people in the 18th—a 51% approval rating, which is a lot higher than nationally.
In addition, times are good for President Trump right now. Lamb’s opponent, Rick Saccone, tied himself to the tax cut, which is also popular right now—the bills have not yet come due, the end of the stock market bull run is not yet clear, the coming inflation has not yet arrived, with the inevitable higher interest rates—and yet Lamb still won.
OK. So, good news for Democrats and maybe they retake the House and Senate next year—not all that likely still, but possible.
But is this good news for America? A Democratic congress cannot govern with Trump in the White House—that is why a Republican Congress could not govern with Obama in the White House. Such a congress will only heap partisan fire, unless President Trump pivots and the Democrats accept it.
Trump is capable of doing this—he has no principles, after all, but self-interest and in that sense is the least partisan person in Washington. He does not care about the Republican Party.
The Democrats are as partisan as can be.
But here there is another small ray of hope. Conor Lamb is actually not a conservative Democrat—he is not pro-life, like Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey. But Lamb is moderate and very open as a matter of temperament. He had to be to win this district, of course, but I sense this is the actual Conor Lamb. The Republicans even went after him as soft and easily led by Pelosi—a former marine and prosecutor!—but that just illustrates the point. Lamb is soft in a good sense—he will talk to Republicans. And Lamb’s success means fewer primaries against Red State Democrats who are like him. And that means a healthier Democratic Party that would be willing to find common ground with President Trump and Republicans where that is possible—like on gun control and immigration. That would be good news for America.
The narrative in the Democratic Party has been to run to the Left to excite the base. After all, the Dems had lost 5 straight special House elections in Republican dominated Districts. So what was the point of running moderates? Conor Lamb changes that narrative for the foreseeable future.